In today's On the News segment: Once again, the corporate media virtually ignored a massive protest over the weekend; Florida Republicans don't want everyone to vote; last week, another child was killed in a fatal gun accident, and it prompted one city to launch its own plan to reduce senseless shootings; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Once again, the corporate media virtually ignored a massive protest over the weekend. On Saturday, more than 80,000 people from 32 states marched against extreme right-wing policies in North Carolina. Protestors came from all over our nation to push back against what they call the "immoral and unconstitutional policies" of Governor Pat McCrory and his Republican legislature. The "Moral March on Raleigh" grew out of the weekly "Moral Monday" protests that are now spreading to other states, and it was organized by the Historic Thousands on Jones Street group. Over the past few years, Republican lawmakers in that state have enacted voter suppression laws, cut unemployment benefits, raised taxes on the poor, and refused to expand Medicaid, and people are speaking out against these extreme policies. This weekend, doctors, students, teachers, low-wage workers, voting rights advocates, and women's rights groups all marched together from Shaw University to the state capitol, carrying signs about everything from minimum wage to reproductive rights. This march was a perfect snapshot of what millions of Americans are fighting in Red states, yet the so-called "mainstream media" ignored the massive protest. People all around our country are finding their voice, and standing together to fight extreme policies, but you would never know that by following the corporate news. The issues that Americans care about are being ignored, but these protests are growing, and soon even the corporate media is going to have to start paying attention.
In screwed news... Florida Republicans don't want everyone to vote. After hours-long voting lines during the 2012 elections, people and organizations throughout that state offered suggestions to streamline the voting process. One of the ideas presented was using the student union at the University of Florida as a voting precinct for college students, but Secretary of State Ken Detzner has rejected that idea. Last week, Secretary Detzner claimed that the student union doesn't fit into that state's list of eligible voting sites, which includes government-owned community centers and civic centers. Most people would argue that a publicly-owned building at a public university falls into either of those groups, but Republicans do not agree. In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards said, "This is strategic. They're worried about young people voting." And, she's exactly right. Republicans know that young people do not support their extreme policies, so they are doing everything in their power to make it impossible for college students to vote.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The massive cuts to food stamp benefits in the recent Farm Bill are nothing to celebrate, but there is one piece of good news in that legislation – legalized industrial hemp. When President Obama signed that bill into law, he finalized an amendment which legalized industrial hemp production, although only for research purposes. That amendment was backed by an organization called Vote Hemp, which is working to revitalize the industrial hemp industry in our nation. Eric Steenstra, the president of Vote Hemp, said, "The market opportunities for hemp are incredibly promising – ranging from textiles and health foods to home construction and even [the] automobile industry. This is not just a boon to U.S. farmers, this is a boon to the U.S. manufacturing industries as well." Although this legislation only allows hemp for research purposes at this time, this is one more step towards full cannabis legalization, and it's great news for American farmers and businesses.
According to RadCast.org, radiation levels are down slightly from last week's highs, but a few areas are still reporting above-average spikes. Asheville, North Carolina is averaging 37 counts per minute, with spikes of 59, and Upper St. Claire, Pennsylvania is reporting 42 counts per minute, with highs of 102. Des Moines, Iowa is sitting at 38 counts per minute, with spikes of 88, and Lakewood, Colorado is hovering at 63, with highs of 94 counts per minute. Henderson, Nevada is reporting 47 counts per minute, with spikes of 68, and Paso Robles, California is averaging 39, with highs of 92 counts per minute. Seaside, Oregon is hovering at 33 counts per minute, with spikes of 55, and Sitka, Alaska is sitting at 31, with highs of 53 counts per minute. RadCast.org's alert level is 100 counts per minute, but they remind us that there is no such thing as a safe level of radiation.
Last week, another child was killed in a fatal gun accident, and it prompted one city to launch its own plan to reduce senseless shootings. Boston, Massachusetts has announced a gun buy back program to get weapons of war off of their streets. The details of their plan are still being developed, but newly-elected mayor Marty Walsh says that Boston must do something in response to the recent spike in fatal shootings. Mayor Walsh is working closely with the police commissioner to figure out how the buy back will work, and how much money will be offered for each weapon that's handed over. He said, "It's a short-term solution," but at least he's trying to address these tragic gun deaths. Congress has made it clear that they won't allow a national policy to reduce shooting deaths, so we should support these local efforts to get weapons of war off of our streets.
And finally... According to NOAA, the Bermuda Triangle does not really exist. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says, "There is no evidence that mysterious disappearances occur with any greater frequency in the Bermuda Triangle than in any other large, well-traveled area of the ocean." Of course, not everyone agrees with NOAA's statement, and people point to both mystical and more reasonable explanations for the long-list of disappearances in that area. Some theories include space aliens and black holes, and others simply wonder about methane bubbling up from the sea floor. However, NOAA said, "the combined forces of nature and human fallibility outdo even the most incredulous science fiction." In other words, super storms and stupidity are the real dangers.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, February 10, 2014. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.